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The disconnect between marketers and Google Plus

Those of us involved in social media professionally have seen a lot of attention shift from one industry trend to another. I remember hearing at SMX Social 2012 that marketers needed to start using Google Plus, so following the conference, I created pages for SmartSign’s brands. I waited patiently for actual signs of life on the network, while bloggers continued to discuss the possibility of missing out on key opportunities unless you were active on Google Plus. I was surprised by the irony I found in that message: if you can hear the tumbleweeds rolling, what exactly is there to gain?

Well, Google Plus has moved beyond being the “most important opportunity you aren’t yet taking advantage of.” Not only does it boast over 300 million monthly users (a far cry from the ghost town many believe it to be), according to Forrester Research, Google Plus’s engagement levels are nearly identical to Facebook’s. And, fluffy blog posts about why your business must be engaged on the network aren’t as prevalent now – a fortunate sign of the times.

Google Plus views

A screenshot of SmartSign’s Google Plus profile views section, which was introduced towards the end of March.

Late last month, Google slyly removed the +1 counter from profiles in favor of a page and content view count. The +1s were arguably the default metric of success on the network – a straightforward measurement of how many endorsements from others your posts and page received. From a brand perspective, this isn’t just a minor tweak, but a maneuver by Google to force businesses to refine their social strategy.

After nearly two years of regularly using Google Plus, I’ve felt that countless brands were on Google Plus just to accumulate +1s. Considering Penguin, Panda, and other search algorithm updates, when marketers figure out a way to game the system, Google doesn’t stand pat. To their credit, it was almost too easy to prove your brand’s progress with the +1 box slapped on the top of profiles. Social media is a nascent field compared to traditional marketing, constantly evolving and full of new challenges. We shouldn’t settle for the status quo.

I’m still surprised I haven’t found any articles that voice a similar sentiment to mine. You can talk all you want about the new views feature, but don’t forget about what it replaced. Was knowing your +1 count a significant tool for assessing KPIs? Without it, do you believe there are analytics adjustments you need to make?

Check out Chief Architect of Google Plus, Yonatan Zunger’s comments on what views actually indicate, and how they’re determined.


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